WASHINGTON (KFOR) – All Oklahoma U.S. Representatives voted ‘nay’ in Thursday’s Respect For Marriage Act roll call. However, the House did ultimately pass the legislation.
The bipartisan legislation would protect interracial unions and same-sex marriages by requiring states to recognize legal marriages regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.”
President Joe Biden is expected to promptly sign the measure, which passed the House 258-169 with almost 40 Republican votes.
Among the 169 nays, Oklahoma US Representatives Stephanie Bice, Tom Cole, Kevin Hern, Frank Lucas, and Markwayne Mullin.
KFOR has reached out to their offices.
“I was disappointed by the manner this bill was pushed through the House, not allowing for committee markup, open debate or amendment consideration. Unfortunately, instead of working across the aisle, Democrats chose to go it alone without listening to and addressing conservative concerns on religious liberty and the precedent this bill would set.”Tom Cole, OK-04
“I have tremendous respect for individuals and the decisions they make in their personal relationships. Without the adoption of additional amendments in the House or Senate, this legislation withholds key protections for religious communities, charities, and individuals. Had this legislation contained comprehensive protections for all Americans with deeply held religious beliefs, I would have supported it. It is paramount that every individual is shown respect and compassion while also being given equal protection under the law.”Stephanie Bice, OK-05
Lucas did not have a comment.
KFOR is awaiting a response from Hern’s and Mullin’s offices.
After months of talks, the Senate passed the bill last week with 12 Republican votes. Both Sen. James Lankford and Sen. Jim Inhofe voted against it.
“The Respect for Marriage Act has serious problems in the text that will create years of litigation and distrust across the country. The bill was intentionally written to exclude religious and conscience protections for individuals, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations and will further subject them to harassment and lawsuits for living out their faith and partnering with the government. All Americans should be honored, and no one should be discriminated against. But, as President Obama stated in 2015, ‘Americans of goodwill continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue. Opposition in some cases has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs.’ Today’s vote unnecessarily chose to run over millions of people who hold those deeply held beliefs.”James Lankford, R-OK
The legislation would not require states to allow same-sex couples to marry, as the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision now does. But it would require states to recognize all marriages that were legal where they were performed and it would protect current same-sex unions if the Obergefell decision were overturned.
Additionally, the measure repeals the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that recognizes marriage as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” and refers to the word spouse as “a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife.”
The legislation approved by both chambers also includes an amendment outlining protections for religious liberties — an eleventh-hour addition that was central to securing enough Republican support for the bill’s passage in the Senate. The addition shields religious organizations from having to provide services supporting same-sex marriage, ensures that the federal government does not acknowledge polygamous marriage and includes conscience protections under the Constitution and federal law.
In the end, several religious groups, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, came out in support of the bill. The Mormon church said it would support rights for same-sex couples as long as they didn’t infringe upon religious groups’ right to believe as they choose.
Thursday’s vote came as the LGBTQ community has faced violent attacks, such as the shooting earlier this month at a gay nightclub in Colorado that killed five people and injured at least 17.